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Press Release

06/07/2010 5:57 PM ET
Major League baseball players award $150,000 in grants to Volunteers of America programs nationwide that serve those in need

SEATTLE -- Major League baseball players presented $150,000 in grants from the Major League Baseball Players Trust to six Volunteers of America programs that further the organization’s mission to strengthen communities and build better lives for those in need. A total of $730,000 has been provided by the Players Trust to more than 50 Volunteers of America programs since the first grants were presented in 2003.

Charles Gould, national president and chief executive officer of Volunteers of America, said, “The Players Trust has been a true partner to Volunteers of America, and they have become familiar members of our team working to improve the lives of people in need. Thousands of people have benefited from the generosity of Major Leaguers and we look forward to continuing to work together to build better lives and stronger communities well into the future.”

"On behalf of all Major Leaguers, the Players Trust is honored to once again support the diverse humanitarian efforts of Volunteers of America by awarding grants that will have a positive impact on so many people in need,” said Melissa Persaud, Director of the Players Trust. “Major Leaguers are inspired by Volunteers of America’s long-standing commitment and ability to address pressing social needs in communities across the country, and they urge others to follow their example.”

This year’s winning programs received Players Trust grants ranging in size from $16,000 to $45,000, which were presented on June 7 at Volunteers of America’s national conference in Seattle. The six programs serve thousands of people in all regions of the United States:

Volunteers of America of Wyoming and Montana, The Gathering Garden: Players Trust funding will be used to develop, grow and sustain The Gathering Garden, a resident and community garden. The project will directly benefit the Residential Wellness Program, which trains and empowers women, men, children and seniors to promote a healthy lifestyle. The Gathering Garden will benefit more than 1,000 individuals and offer community enhancement, sustainability for the environment and pride of ownership and education for program clients.

Volunteers of America of Kentucky, Upward Mobility Project, Tennessee: The grant will be used to support the Upward Mobility Project, which aims to fully integrate people with intellectual disabilities into their communities and improve their quality of life. Upward Mobility -- a partnership between the Federal Transportation Administration, the Tennessee Department of Transportation, Volunteers of America Kentucky and the Major League Baseball Players Trust -- will purchase six wheelchair-accessible vans. The funds will improve service, transportation access, safety and reliability for people with developmental disabilities throughout Tennessee.

Volunteers of America of Western New York, Children’s Center, Rochester, N.Y.: Funding will help open a new state-of-the-art Children’s Center and large, outdoor playground for low-income families living in Rochester. The nationally accredited Children’s Center provides child care and education programs for 260 children each day. The grant will provide a safe place for children to play in the early evenings and on weekends, as well as a place for families to hold birthday parties and other celebrations out of harm’s way.

Volunteers of America Greater Sacramento & Northern Nevada, foster youth mentoring program, Sacramento, Calif.: Grant funds will be used to establish a mentoring program for former foster youth ages 18 to 24. This program is the first of its kind locally to target the unique needs of foster youth who have aged out of the system. It expands an existing two-year transitional housing program aimed at helping these youths become independent and self-sufficient through increased income and savings, job training, education and housing. Through mentoring, these youth will improve social skills and self-esteem and have greater success achieving education and employment goals.

Volunteers of America Western Washington, NorthWest Seattle Food Bank, Seattle: Funds from the Players Trust will be used to establish the NorthWest Seattle Food Bank and Community Resource Center for the Greater Seattle/King County area. The grant will help feed 27,000 individuals, an almost 12 percent increase from 2009. The award also will be used for the purchase of new walk-in refrigeration equipment that will increase the amount of fresh, nutritious dairy and produce available for food bank clients.

Volunteers of America, Dakotas, Bowden Youth Center, Sioux Falls, S.D.: The grant will expand transportation services for low-income and refugee families in the neighborhoods served by the Bowden Youth Center. The center is a safe education and recreation place that also serves as a drop-in center for runaway, at-risk and homeless youth. The Bowden Express van will connect a minimum of 100 youths and 20 parents to existing resources such as literacy services, recreation, education and prevention programs provided at the center. The Bowden Express and the creation of this shuttle system will provide a safe and secure option for needy parents.

Volunteers of America has partnered with the Major League Baseball Players Trust since 2002. The centerpiece of this relationship is the Action Team program, which encourages young people throughout the United States to volunteer in their communities. Action Teams, consisting of Major League baseball players and Team Captains from area high schools, work together in cities nationwide to encourage young people to get involved in their communities by volunteering. To date, Action Teams across the country have inspired more than 25,000 high school students to help over 100,000 people in need by volunteering in their communities.

About Volunteers of America
Volunteers of America is a national, nonprofit, faith-based organization dedicated to helping those in need live healthy, safe and productive lives. Since 1896, our ministry of service has supported and empowered America's most vulnerable groups, including seniors, people with disabilities, at-risk youth, men and women returning from prison, homeless individuals and families, those recovering from addictions and many others. Through hundreds of human service programs, including housing and health care, Volunteers of America helps more than 2 million people in over 400 communities. We offer a variety of services for older Americans, in particular, that allow them to maintain their independence and quality of life -- everything from an occasional helping hand to full-time care. Our work touches the mind, body, heart and ultimately the spirit of those we serve, integrating our deep compassion with highly effective programs and services. For more information about Volunteers of America, visit www.VolunteersofAmerica.org.

About the Major League Baseball Players Trust
The Major League Baseball Players Trust partnered with Volunteers of America in 2002 to promote the nurturing and well-being of America’s children and their families. The partnership features the personal involvement of Major League baseball players and their families with a variety of programs conducted by Volunteers of America throughout the United States. Also, together they administer the Action Team, a national youth volunteer program currently inspiring the next generation of volunteers across the United States, including Puerto Rico and Hawaii. For more information about the Major League Baseball Players Trust, visit www.MLBPLAYERS.com and visit the Players Trust Channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/MLBPlayersTrust on YouTube.

Media contacts:
David Burch, Volunteers of America, 703-341-5054 or dburch@voa.org
Greg Bouris, Major League Baseball Players Association, 212-826-0808 or gbouris@mlbpa.org